Monday, May 28, 2012

President Obama Honors Vietnam Veterans at the Vietnam War Memorial

.

Voice of Vietnamese Americans thanks President Obama and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta for illuminating the Noble Cause of the Vietnam War by officially honoring the Vietnam War Veterans at the National Mall, in front of the Vietnam War Memorial, on this Memorial Day May 28, 2012.

Voice of Vietnamese Americans is deeply grateful to all Vietnam Veterans who have served in the Vietnam War. Voice of Vietnamese Americans sincerely thanks all American families who have endured tremendous hardships while sharing your loved ones for the noble cause of the American values: that of liberty, democracy, and equal justice for all.

Let us never forget: All Vietnam Veterans are true heroes. You will forever have a very special place in our hearts. Because of you, we have our freedom and  will strive hard to pay back to this country.

May God bless our Veterans and their families.

May God bless the United States of America! 



Voice of Vietnamese Americans
 

Vietnam War Marked on Memorial Day


Washington, DC
Monday, May 28, 2012
Source: CSPAN

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War. On Memorial Day, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta launched a national effort to commemorate the conflict in Southeast Asia.

President Obama delivered the keynote address at the ceremony held at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the National Mall, which included speeches by Sec. Panetta, Chairman of Joints Chief of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey and former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE), a Vietnam veteran. Actor Tom Sellick was Master of Ceremonies.


The Vietnam 50th Anniversary Commemoration Program, which honors veterans and those missing-in-action as well military families on the home front, is a partnership between the Department of Defense and other federal agencies, veterans groups, state, local government and non-government organizations. The 2008 National Defense Authorization Act authorized the Secretary of Defense to initiate the commemoration program.



Video Playlist
Related Resources
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release May 25, 2012

COMMEMORATION OF THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE VIETNAM WAR
- - - - - - -
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

A PROCLAMATION

As we observe the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War, we reflect with solemn reverence upon the valor of a generation that served with honor. We pay tribute to the more than 3 million servicemen and women who left their families to serve bravely, a world away from everything they knew and everyone they loved. From Ia Drang to Khe Sanh, from Hue to Saigon and countless villages in between, they pushed through jungles and rice paddies, heat and monsoon, fighting heroically to protect the ideals we hold dear as Americans. Through more than a decade of combat, over air, land, and sea, these proud Americans upheld the highest traditions of our Armed Forces.

As a grateful Nation, we honor more than 58,000 patriots --their names etched in black granite -- who sacrificed all they had and all they would ever know. We draw inspiration from the heroes who suffered unspeakably as prisoners of war, yet who returned home with their heads held high. We pledge to keep faith with those who were wounded and still carry the scars of war, seen and unseen. With more than 1,600 of our service members still among the missing, we pledge as a Nation to do everything in our power to bring these patriots home. In the reflection of The Wall, we see the military family members and veterans who carry a pain that may never fade. May they find peace in knowing their loved ones endure, not only in medals and memories, but in the hearts of all Americans, who are forever grateful for their service, valor, and sacrifice.

In recognition of a chapter in our Nation's history that must never be forgotten, let us renew our sacred commitment to those who answered our country's call in Vietnam and those who awaited their safe return. Beginning on Memorial Day 2012, the Federal Government will partner with local governments, private organizations, and communities across America to participate in the Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War -- a 13-year program to honor and give thanks to a generation of proud Americans who saw our country through one of the most challenging missions we have ever faced. While no words will ever be fully worthy of their service, nor any honor truly befitting their sacrifice, let us remember that it is never too late to pay tribute to the men and women who answered the call of duty with courage and valor. Let us renew our commitment to the fullest possible accounting for those who have not returned.

2

Throughout this Commemoration, let us strive to live up to their example by showing our Vietnam veterans, their families, and all who have served the fullest respect and support of a grateful Nation.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim May 28, 2012, through November 11, 2025, as the Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War.

I call upon Federal, State, and local officials to honor our Vietnam veterans, our fallen, our wounded, those unaccounted for, our former prisoners of war, their families, and all who served with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-fifth day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand twelve, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-sixth.

BARACK OBAMA

# # #


.

Vietnam War Memorial





The Vietnam Veteran's Memorial in Washington, DC. It honors US service members
of the US armed forces who fought in the Vietnam War, service members who died in service in Vietnam/South East Asia and those service members who were unaccounted for (missing in action) during the war.

Voice of Vietnamese Americans is deeply grateful to all Vietnam Veterans who have served in the Vietnam War. Voice of Vietnamese Americans sincerely thanks all American families who have endured tremendous hardships while sharing your loved ones for the noble cause of the American values: that of liberty, democracy, and equal justice for all.

Let us never forget: All Vietnam Veterans are true heroes. You will forever have a very special place in our hearts.

May God bless our Veterans and their families.
May God bless the United States of America!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

VOICE OF VIETNAMESE AMERICANS' STATEMENT IN OBSERVANCE OF MEMORIAL DAY




 
For Immediate Release:
Contact: Genie Nguyen
703-593-7182
May 26, 2012

VOICE OF VIETNAMESE AMERICANS' STATEMENT IN OBSERVANCE OF MEMORIAL DAY

Memorial Day gives all Americans the opportunity to honor those who have laid their lives on the line to serve our country. VVA joins all Americans in proudly standing up for America’s fallen soldiers today to pay tribute to their commitment and service to this great nation. They served and fought on behalf of our freedom and our security.

Generations of Vietnamese Americans found their way to America to rebuild their lives in a land of freedom, opportunity and other cherished values, and today, we express our greatest respects to our nation’s bravest soldiers who served to defend and preserve these values for all Americans.

Voice of Vietnamese Americans stands in solidarity with our soldiers to promote, protect, and defend the American values: that of democracy, liberty, and equal justice for all.

Together with all Americans, Voice of Vietnamese Americans and its members extend our deepest gratitude to all active troops, veterans and America’s fallen soldiers from across the country for their admirable commitment to our nation.



###


The mission of Voice of Vietnamese Americans is to empower Vietnamese Americans by promoting civic engagement through community organizing and capacity building. Voice of Vietnamese Americans enhances, defends, and protects the American core values of human rights, civil rights, democracy, liberty, and justice for all.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

May 25, 2012 (Friday) Fourth Naturalization Ceremony in honor of Asian American Heritage Month initiated by the Fairfax County Asian American History Project (FCAAHP)



Voice of Vietnamese Americans congratulates all new citizens.



There will be performances of patriotic American songs and folk songs at the pre-ceremony (10AM - 11AM) and at the reception (12Noon - 1PM) by Dr. Thu Huu Bui and Vietnamese American Seniors Choral Group and a Korean American Youth Group.  Soo Yee of FCAAHP will moderate the pre-ceremony at the Board Room.  The Asian-themed reception at the Forum of the Government Center is sponsored by Amour LLC.  Information tables will be available on voter registration, passport services, along with the Fairfax County Asian American History Project, the Japanese American Veterans' Association, the Chinese American Project 1882, and the Vietnamese American civic programs.






The formal naturalization ceremony (11AM - 12NOON) at the Board Room will be moderated by Corazon Sandoval Foley, FCAAHP.  It will begin with the Presentation of Colors by the Fairfax County Public Safety Honor Guard and the National Anthem sung by Captain Francis Mensah of the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department.   Welcoming Remarks will be provided by Robert Nakamoto, President of Amour LLC.   Chairman Sharon Bulova of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will provide the Chairman's Remarks.  The Inspirational Message will be provided by Captain Samuel DeVera of the Fairfax County Asian American Firefighters' Association.  Call of Countries and Presentation of Candidates for Citizenship will be led by Kimberly Zanotti, Washington Field Office Director, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.   Sarah Taylor, Washington District Director, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, will administer the Oath of Allegiance.  Congressman Gerald Connolly (VA-11) will provide congratulatory remarks and lead the pledge of allegiance for the 75 New Americans.  The presentation of certificates will be followed by a video with President Obama's message and a patriotic musical tribute.



*I wrote an article "Farewell to a Fairfax Firefighter" on Mark Baban's funeral on Friday, February 3, 2012.   Mark Baban had agreed to provide the inspirational message on May 25, 2012 as President of the Fairfax County Asian American Firefighters' Association: 120203FarewellMarkBabanFirefighter.pdf


Youtube Video of May 6, 2011 Pre-Ceremony
for FCAAHP-sponsored Third Naturalization Ceremony
with bagpipe performance by Mark Baban, Filipino American
President of Fairfax County Asian American Firefighters' Association
and songs by Chinese American Silver Light Seniors Association
or



FCAAHP THIRD NATURALIZATIONCEREMONY
in honor of Asian American Heritage Month in Fairfax County
began officially at 11:00 AM on FRIDAY, MAY 6, 2011.

Bottom Photo courtesy of Corazon Sandoval Foley
Asian Fortune Article on Grant Ichikawa's speech at May 6th Naturalization Ceremony
Article on Grant Ichikawa and May 6, Naturalization Ceremony was written for JAVA:

Burma's Daw Aung San Suu Kyi Received Honorary Degree From Johns Hopkins


Voice of Vietnamese Americans congratulates  the Honorable Aung San Suu Kyi, who received an Honorary Degree from the Johns Hopkins University on Thursday, May 24, 2012.  VVA wishes Aung San Suu Kyi all the best in leading the democratic changes for a better future in Myanmar.



Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, revered around the world for her peaceful fight for democracy in Burma, received an honorary degree from The Johns Hopkins University on Thursday, May 24, 2012. Suu Kyi did not attend the ceremony, but accepted her degree with this pre-recorded message.


Source: The Johns Hopkins University
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yv11uo71oFs

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Foreign Policy Leaders Urge Passage of Law of the Sea Treaty

 .


Washington, DC
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
The Senate Foreign Relations committee heard from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, and the Joint Chiefs of Staffs Chairman, General Martin Dempsey, on the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea. The U.S. is the only major country that has not ratified the treaty.
In a forum at the Atlantic Council earlier this month, all three leaders said that the treaty was crucial to establishing ocean rights in the Asia-Pacific region and in other key international waters.
The treaty's opponents have argued that it will restrict military movements and limit the ability of the U.S. to gather intelligence in territorial waters.
According to the Washington Post, "the treaty regulates the ocean’s use for military, transportation and mineral extraction purposes and it recognizes sovereign rights over a country’s continental shelf out to 200 nautical miles and beyond if a country can substantiate its claims."
The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea was adopted by the U.N in July 1994 and signed by President Clinton subject to ratification that month.

Updated: 7 hr., 16 min. ago

 Source: CSPAN.
http://www.c-span.org/Events/Foreign-Policy-Leaders-Urge-Passage-of-Law-of-the-Sea-Treaty/10737430901-1/

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

China’s Un-Neighborly Fishing Ban/ ASEAN Beat/ The Diplomat.com


China’s Un-Neighborly Fishing Ban

China has imposed its annual ban on commercial fishing in the South China Sea, but its efforts to preserve and replenish fish stocks have been met with skepticism. Hanoi is particularly irritated, while Manila is biting its tongue, believing the move is simply another form of Chinese bullying.

Vietnam says the ban, from May 16 to August 1, is “invalid”. The Philippines responded with its own ban, allowing a face saving reduction in tensions amid the month-long stand-off with China over Scarborough Shoal.

Neither believe China is genuinely acting in the best interests of food security, and they suspect its ulterior motive is simply to assert itself over the Spratly and Paracel islands, which has increasingly become a regional flashpoint.

Vietnamese and Philippine claims are on the basis of a U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea and a rule that gives maritime nations the right to explore, exploit and develop areas within their 200-nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ).

China insists the overwhelming majority of islands of the South China Sea – also known as the West Philippines Sea and the East Sea in Vietnam – fall under its sovereign jurisdiction despite many of the islands being located within the well defined EEZ territorial limits.

However, it says the EEZ convention doesn’t give maritime nations the right to undermine the sovereignty of other countries, adding the disputed waters have been traditional fishing grounds for Chinese fishermen for centuries.

Vietnam’s foreign ministry labeled the Chinese ban as unilateral, while local media have interviewed fisherman who say they intend to ignore the Chinese ban, first imposed in 1999, promising to set sail for the Paracel Islands and challenge the Chinese ban.

This follows the detention and alleged beating of 20 Vietnamese fishermen seized by Chinese authorities while diving for sea cucumbers near the Paracels in February. A heated diplomatic row followed. Hanoi insisted on an unconditional release while China claimed it had acted legally as the islands are within its sovereign jurisdiction.

Most of the islands are uninhabited but are believed to contain large oil and gas deposits. The fishing grounds are rich and the narrow shipping lanes of strategic importance to commercial and military maritime traffic.

In a bid to limit any confrontation in the disputed seas, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has attempted to find an agreement among its members on the Declaration on the Code of Conduct. which would provide a means for dispute resolutions and limit any escalation in tensions. However, China is unimpressed by the document saying it wants to deal with individual members of ASEAN when it comes to sovereign issues as opposed to a united ASEAN front.

Still, as Trefor Moss noted last month, ASEAN is drafting a Code of Conduct governing behavior in the South China Sea, and is due to present Beijing with its proposals in July. China will be under diplomatic pressure to accept the ASEAN formula.

China has also indicated it was prepared to escalate the issue if their latest ban is flouted saying through the official Xinhua News Agency that fishing in the waters would be viewed as “blatant encroachment on China’s fishing resources.”

Ominously, the piece declares “Violators will face punishments such as fines, license revocations, confiscations and possible criminal charges, according to a statement issued by the fishery bureau under the MOA.”


Source: the-diplomat.com/asean-beat/.../china’s-un-neighborly-fishing-ban/   May 18
Original news: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/china/2012-05/17/c_131592412.htm  May 16

Monday, May 21, 2012

Celebrating the Generations of AAPI Immigrants that Have Built America

Felicia Escobar at the WHIAAPI’s Heritage Month Community Leaders Briefing 
  Felicia Escobar, Senior Policy Director for Immigration at the White House Domestic Policy Council, speaks at the WHIAAPI’s Heritage Month Community Leaders Briefing, May 9, 2012. (Photo courtesy of the White House Domestic Policy Council)

In this year’s Presidential Proclamation on Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, the President reminded us that “generations of AAPIs have helped make America what it is today.”  In light of this celebration, the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI) will be hosting briefings at the White House and other engagements across the country throughout the entire month of May.  You can find blog posts and a listing of this month’s engagements on WHIAAPI’s Weekly Highlights: AAPI Heritage Month Edition page.

Last week, I participated in one of these engagements as a part of WHIAAPI’s Heritage Month Community Leaders Briefing, which was held at the White House on May 9, 2012.  This briefing brought together national, community and government leaders to hear from senior White House officials on critical issues to the AAPI community, including the economy, immigration, healthcare and education.  Given that approximately 60 percent of Asian Americans were born outside the U.S., how we implement our immigration policies matters to AAPI communities. The Administration takes seriously  its responsibility to implement and enforce our immigration laws so that they are consistent with our finest tradition of being  a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants. At the briefing, I discussed the Administration’s efforts to build a 21st century immigration system through administrative reforms and legislative action on comprehensive immigration reform legislation.

The Administration will continue to improve our system while still insisting that Congress take up and pass comprehensive immigration reform.  We have developed a blueprint for a 21st century immigration system that lays out our policy proposals for Congressional action.  In the meantime, however, we have begun important reforms to the system so that it that it prioritizes the safety of detainees, while enhancing our legal immigration system and promoting innovative citizenship integration programs.
For example, the Administration implemented common sense guidelines for prosecutorial discretion and a case-by-case review process to focus federal enforcement resources on the highest priority individuals.  We have also increased our engagement and immigrant integration efforts by providing Chinese-language engagement opportunities through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and by creating the immigrant integration grant program. USCIS has also developed helpful tools for individuals preparing to naturalize and the organizations that serve them.  Many of these materials are available in multiple Asian languages. According to DHS, over 1 million AAPIs are eligible to naturalize.

Earlier this year, the Administration announced a proposed regulatory change to allow in-country processing for family based visas. Given that Asia-born persons are more likely than other immigrants to enter under family-sponsored or employment-based immigration preferences, this proposal has the potential to significantly impact the AAPI community. In fact, it has been hailed a huge victory by attorneys, and other AAPI leaders in the immigration advocacy world. 

During the Q & A session, AAPI leaders shared helpful feedback on the impact these and other Administrative reforms are having on AAPI communities across the country. The Administration will continue to work to ensure that the immigration system is serving all immigrant communities, including the AAPI immigrant community. I look forward to continue working with WHIAAPI and other leaders from around the country to help ensure that issues particular to the AAPI community are heard and understood.
Felicia Escobar is Senior Policy Director for Immigration at the White House Domestic Policy Council.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Keeping education affordable should be the first long term priority




President Obama speaks to students and parents about his effort to prevent interest rate from doubling on Stafford student loan at Washington-Lee High School in Arlington, Virgina, Friday, May 4, 2012.
On April 28, the Republican controlled House of Representatives passed a bill that would keep federally subsidized student loan rate from doubling to 6.8 percent ; however, the cost of the program would come at the expense of some funding for the American Affordable Healthcare Act. The Senate is voting on its bill May 7.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

"MAY 2ND: VIETNAMESE REFUGEES DAY"

"MAY 2ND: VIETNAMESE REFUGEES DAY"

.





Senator Jim Webb, addressing the Keynote speech at the Symposium. The Honorable Jim Webb mentioned his wife Hong Le Webb, who was a boat person at the the age of 7, later resettled in New Orleans, and having to work in a shrimp factory to earn her way through schools. She passed selective tests for Gifted and Talented children, continued to advance through schools, graduated from Cornell University and now is an acclaimed attorney working for a prestigious law firm in Washington D.C.

Senator Webb introduced the Senate Resolution: "May 2nd, Vietnamese Refugees Day" on April 30, 2009. The resolution, S. Res. 123, was unanimously passed last night (April 30, 2009) in the U.S. Senate.


The Vietnamese Americans presented Appreciation Plaque to The Honorable Jim Webb:
"IN APPRECIATION OF YOUR PERSONAL SACRIFICES IN THE VIETNAM WAR AND YOUR ENDURING CONVICTIONS IN FREEDOM AND DEMOCRACY FOR VIETNAM."

[From left to right: Prof. Bich Ngoc Nguyen, Mrs. Thuy Thanh Vu, Dr. Hung M. Nguyen, Senator Jim Webb, Genie Ngoc-Giao Nguyên, Hoan Dang, Sister My Hanh Truong, Dr. Hado Conley, Dr. Billington.]

On 34th Anniversary of the Fall of Saigon, Webb Resolution in Support of "Vietnamese Refugees Day" Passes Senate

Delivers Senate Floor Speech to Mark Anniversary


Washington, DC—On the 34th Anniversary of the Fall of Saigon, Senator Jim Webb D-VA introduced a Senate resolution expressing support for designating May 2, 2009 “Vietnamese Refugees Day.” The resolution, S. Res. 123, was unanimously passed last night in the U.S. Senate.

The resolution commemorates the arrival of the Vietnamese refugees in the United States, documents their harrowing experiences and subsequent achievements in their new homeland, honors the host countries that welcomed the boat people, and recognizes the voluntary agencies and nongovernmental organizations that facilitated their resettlement, adjustment, and assimilation into mainstream society in the United States.

“The events following the fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975, have never really been given the proper attention,” said Senator Webb in a speech on the Senate floor. “As a consequence of that bitter day in April, 1975 there are now more than two million Americans of Vietnamese descent. We are better off as a nation for their contributions to our society, at every level. It was not always easy for these refugees when they arrived, but they won the rest of us over with their perseverance, their reverence for education, and their dedication to their families.”

Webb continued: “It is important that Americans understand this journey, because those who lived it deserve a fair place at the table as we continue to work toward better relations in the Vietnam of today. It is important to build a proper bridge between our country and Vietnam, for the good of both countries, for the health East Asia, and for the benefit of all the people inside today’s Vietnam.”

To read Senator Webb’s resolution expressing support for designating May 2, 2009 “Vietnamese Refugees Day,” please visit: http://webb.senate.gov/pdf/vietrefday.pdf

Senator Webb’s full remarks on the anniversary of the fall of Saigon follow:

“Mister President, today is a day that, for Vietnamese around the world, is as significant as the distinctions that are often made in other cultures between B.C. and A.D. Thirty-four years ago, on April 30th, 1975, the Communist forces from North Vietnam finished their conquest of the south, and the struggling, war-torn country of South Vietnam ceased to exist. Many who fought on the communist side and others who supported them believe that the motivation for pursuing this war was the unification of the country and independence from outside influence, and in many ways the position that they took, and the loss of 1.4 million communist soldiers on the battlefield in pursuit of that position, is understandable. But it is just as understandable to recognize and honor the aspirations of the overwhelming majority of the people of South Vietnam, who fought long and hard at a cost of 245,000 battlefield deaths, for a government that, like our own here in the United States, allows true political and individual freedom.

“Those aspirations fell to the wayside as North Vietnamese tanks entered Saigon, in blatant violation of the 1973 Paris Peace accords, and instituted a harsh, Stalinist system of government that was marked at the outset by cruel recriminations toward those who had resisted its takeover. And thus, for millions of Vietnamese around the world, April 30th is a reminder of the loss of everything, including their homes, their way of life, and their hopes for a prosperous and open future for the country that they loved.

“Americans in general tend to avoid or ignore this day, and the significance it has not only on the Vietnamese but also on our own history. But it is important for us to look back on that day and on the war itself, not in anger but in fairness, in a way that gives credit where credit is due. And it is also important, for all of the reasons that led many of us to support that war endeavor, that we commit ourselves to working together to build the right kind of dialogue with the present government of Vietnam in order to help bring a better future for the Vietnamese people, and a more stable strategic environment in east Asia as a whole.

“Frankly, I believe this war still divides Americans in a way that they still feel but no longer openly discuss. I’m not sure we can even agree on the facts, much less the rightness or wrongness of our policies, that caused us to commit our military to that battlefield, with the eventual loss of 58,000 dead and another 300,000 wounded. Was it right to go into Vietnam? Was it important? If you ask those in academia, the predictable answer, growing ever more predictable as the years cause us to summarize the war ever more briefly, is that it was a mistake. And yet, here is a piece of data that should still cause all of us to think again. In August, 1972, eight years after the Gulf of Tonkin incident that brought us full-bore into Vietnam, even at a time when the nation had grown weary of bad strategies, after tens of thousands of combat deaths, and years of massive antiwar protests, a Harris Survey showed that 72 percent of Americans still believed that it was important that South Vietnam not fall into the hands of the communists, with only 11 percent disagreeing.

“Over the years, we’ve lost the reality of those concerns. Too often in today's discussions that examine the Vietnam War, we are overwhelmed by mythology. I hear it said quite often that this was a war between the United States and Vietnam. Nothing could be further from the truth, and nothing could be more offensive to the millions upon millions of Vietnamese who supported the South Vietnamese government and its long-term goal of a stable democracy. Our attempt to help that government was no different than the manner in which we assisted South Korea when it was attacked after being divided from North Korea, or the motivation that caused us to support West Germany when the demarcation line at the end of World War II divided Germany between the Communist east and the free society in the west. We were not successful in that endeavor in Vietnam for a number of reasons. But it would be wrong to assume that this was an action by our country against the country of Vietnam, or that it was motivated by lesser ideals.

“We hear a lot of dismissive talk about the domino theory and the supposedly unjustified warnings about what was going on in the rest of the region with respect to efforts that were backed by the Soviet Union and Communist China in the runup to our involvement. But these were valid concerns at the time. The region had seen a great deal of turmoil during and after World War Two. Most of the European colonial powers had receded throughout Southeast Asia, largely because of the enormous costs of that war, leaving poverty, war damage and unstable governments behind. Japan had withdrawn from the territories it had invaded and occupied. Governmental systems throughout the region were in transition, many in chaos. The communists had moved into power in China. Within a year North Korea invaded South Korea, and were joined on the battlefield by the Chinese. Indonesia endured an attempted coup, sponsored by the Chinese. In fact, Lee Kuan Yew, the brilliant leader who created modern Singapore, has said many times that the American effort in Vietnam was a key contribution in slowing down communism’s advance throughout the region, and allowing the other countries in the region to stabilize and prosper. The point, simply made, is that there was a great deal of strategic justification for what we attempted to do.

“This brings us to April, 1975. A North Vietnamese offensive had begun in the aftermath of a vote in this Congress to cut off supplemental funding to the Government of South Vietnam. This was combined with a massive refurbishment of the North Vietnamese Army, with the assistance of China and the Soviet Union, that allowed the offensive to kick off at a time when our South Vietnamese allies were attempting to reorganize their positions in order to adapt to the reality that they were going to get markedly less funding in terms of vital supplies such as ammunition and parts for their American-made weapon systems, as well as medical supplies.

“The events following the fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975, have never really been given the proper attention, probably because proper attention would embarrass so many people who had downplayed the dangers of a communist takeover. A gruesome holocaust took place in Cambodia, the likes of which had not been seen since World War II. Two million Vietnamese fled their country -- usually by boat -- with untold thousands losing their lives in the process, and with hundreds of thousands of others following in later years.

“This was the first such Diaspora in Vietnam's long and frequently tragic history. Inside Vietnam a million of the South's best young leaders were sent to re-education camps, where 240,000 stayed for longer than four years. More than 50,000 perished while imprisoned, and others remained captives for as long as 18 years. An apartheid system was put into place that punished those who had been loyal to the U.S., as well as their families, in matters of education, employment and housing. The Soviet Union made Vietnam a client state until its own demise, pumping billions of dollars into the country and keeping extensive naval and air bases at Cam Ranh Bay.

“As a consequence of that bitter day in April, 1975 there are now more than two million Americans of Vietnamese descent. We are better off as a nation for their contributions to our society, at every level. It was not always easy for these refugees when they arrived during the late 1970’s, to a country that had been so torn apart by the war itself. But they won the rest of us over with their perseverance, their reverence for education, and their dedication to their families. Our gain, at least in the short term, was Vietnam’s loss.

“It is important that Americans understand this journey, because those who lived it deserve a fair place at the table as we continue to work toward better relations in the Vietnam of today. Not to undertake a new round of recriminations. Not to re-live the bitterness of the past. But to build a proper bridge between our country and Vietnam, for the good of both countries, for the health East Asia, and for the benefit of all the people inside today’s Vietnam.

With respect to the region, Vietnam remains one of the most important countries in terms the manner in which the United States should be preserving all of its legitimate interests on the East Asian mainland. With the steady accretion of Chinese influence to the north, the expansion of India to the southwest, and the evolution of Muslim influence in Southeast Asia in countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia and the southern reaches of the Philippines, Vietnam, along with Thailand and Singapore, are absolutely vital to our posture as an Asian nation.

“With respect to the Hanoi Government, with which I have had a long and not always pleasant relationship since 1991 when I first returned to Vietnam, I have a great appreciation for the very significant strides they have made since those early days. The relationships that are now evolving between Vietnam and the United States are healthy. In the long term I believe they are going to be successful. And even though I remain proud of my Marine Corps service in that war so many years ago, I welcome them. When I first returned to Vietnam in 1991 I went to Easter Mass at the Hanoi cathedral. There were perhaps 20 people in the church, all of them elderly. Last Christmas I attended Christmas Mass and there were at least two thousand people in the church, overflowing into the courtyard. People can argue around the edges, but this is progress. We need to reward those strides with reciprocal behavior, even if we remain at odds on some issues. There is a lot to be proud of in terms of the transformations that have been going on in Vietnam. Vietnam is growing. It is growing economically. It is growing politically. It is reaching out to the rest of the world. It is acting responsibly in the international arena. We have much work to do. We have much work to do in terms of encouraging more openness and greater political freedom. But we are on a pathway where, with the right kind of continued dialogue, I believe that is going to occur.

“And so I would like to re-emphasize that the best legacy for those of us who care deeply about this issue, and who remember all the tragedies of the war, will be for us to see Vietnam, the Vietnam of today, as a strategic and commercial partner and also as a vibrant, open society whose Government reflects the strength of the culture itself, a strength that has been demonstrated over and over again by the Vietnamese who have come to this country and who, I am proud to say, are now Americans.”

http://rightdemocrat.blogspot.com/2009/05/jim-webb-remembers-fall-of-saigon.html

---------

Cao Commemorates “Vietnamese Refugees Day”

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Anh “Joseph” Cao’s (LA-02) first piece of legislation, H.Res. 342, designating May 2, 2009 as “Vietnamese Refugees Day,” was passed unanimously by the U.S. House of Representatives.

“The resolution commemorates the arrival of Vietnamese refugees in the United States, documents their harrowing experiences and subsequent achievements in their new homeland, and honors the host countries and other voluntary agencies that welcomed the boat people and facilitated their resettlement into mainstream society in the United States,” declared Cao.

On May 2, 2009, designated as “Vietnamese Refugees Day,” the Library of Congress’ Asian Division will join many Vietnamese-American organizations across the United States in sponsoring a symposium entitled: “Journey to Freedom: A Boat People Retrospective.”

“Like me, many of the conflict’s refugees came to the United States. In fact, it was April 28, 1974, exactly 34 years ago today, that, as Saigon fell, I climbed aboard a C-130 destined for the United States and my new life,” said Cao in support of the resolution.

Cao added that, since the Vietnam War ended, approximately 2,000,000 Vietnamese boat people and other refugees are dispersed globally. As of 2006, 72 percent of those Vietnamese-American in the United States are naturalized United States citizens — the highest rate among Asian groups.

Vietnamese-Americans significantly contribute to the cultural and economic prosperity of the United States as artists, scientists, astronauts, restaurateurs, Olympians, professors and lawyers. H.Res. 342 designates May 2, 2009 as “Vietnamese Refugees Day” in honor of Vietnamese-Americans’ journey to freedom.

“By doing so, we enshrine in the hearts and consciousness of Americans the tragic, heroic and uplifting stories of perseverance and the pursuit of freedom of millions of Vietnamese refugees to ensure these stories will stand as an inspiration to generations of Americans to come,” affirmed Cao.

The bill had 67 co-sponsors.

---------




HÀNH TRÌNH TÌM TỰ DO
LỜI THƯA CỦA BAN TỔ CHỨC



Kính thưa quý vi,

Thay mặt Ban Tổ Chức Hành Trình Tìm Tự Do, Ngọc Giao xin được chào mừng tất cả quý ân nhân, quý quan khách, và quý đồng hương, trong Bữa Cơm Hồi Tưởng Câu Chuyện Thuyền Nhân tối nay.

Trước tiên, xin được thành thật cảm tạ Hội Bạn Phòng Đọc Sách Á Đông tại Thư Viện Quốc Hội, nhất là Bà Reme Grefalda, người đề xướng chương trình này, đã cho người Việt tỵ nạn một cơ hội nhìn lại bước đường lịch sử chúng ta đã vượt qua, và giúp ghi lại hành trình này vào trang sử của Hoa Kỳ và thế giới một cách chính thức, trân trọng tại Thư Viện Quốc Hội Hoa Kỳ.

Chúng tôi cũng xin được chân thành cảm tạ quý ân nhân, quý đồng hương, những người Việt tỵ nạn từng là thuyền nhân, bộ nhân, đã nhiệt tình đóng góp vào dự án này. Mong đây là một bước khởi đầu, và chúng ta sẽ cùng nhau tiếp tục góp thêm nhiều sử liệu cho trang sử bi tráng này, thành một di sản đáng quý cho con cháu đời sau.

Trong lúc tổ chức, chắc chắn có nhiều sơ xuất, xin quý vị vui lòng thứ lỗi.

Thưa quý vị, hôm nay, ngày 01 tháng 5, 2009, chúng ta đang ghi lại trang sử cũ, để bước vào một trang sử mới.

Sự hội ngộ của chúng ta hôm nay, tôi tin, đó là một điều vô cùng kỳ diệu. Kỳ diệu vì nó không đến từ một phép màu nào, mà đến từ chính chúng ta, từ ước vọng Tự Do mãnh liệt của người Việt. Kỳ diệu vì nó đến từ chính sự chịu đựng, hy sinh, cố gắng vượt trên mọi thử thách, gian khổ, trong khả năng của một con người rất bình thường và yếu đuối.

Đó là sự kỳ diệu của lòng can đảm, của đức hy sinh, của tình yêu, của lòng tin, và của hy vọng.

Năm 1954, thế hệ của Giáo Sư Tạ Văn Tài, Giáo Sư Nguyễn Ngọc Bích, Giáo Sư Nguyên Manh Hùng, đã bỏ miền Bắc vào Nam, vượt bao khổ cực, để thế hệ 1974 có tương lai hơn.

Thế nhưng, năm 1975, chúng ta lại phải bỏ quê nhà ra đi lần nữa.

Năm 1975 - 1985, thế hệ của Giáo Sư Dinh Xuân Quân, Cô Kim Hà, Cô Vũ Thanh Thủy, Nguyễn Minh Nguyên, Andy Trần lại lần nữa đã can đảm vượt bao thử thách để thế hệ đàn em có tương lai hơn.

Và ngày hôm nay, tại đây, hai MC đại diện thế hệ trẻ là kết quả rât đẹp của sự hy sinh, lòng tin, và hy vọng ấy.

Katie Thục Nhi Đặng, sinh năm 1981, tại Pulau Bidong, từ gia đình thuyền nhân Bác Đặng Hữu Ái, có mặt tại đây hôm nay. Hiện tại Katie là một Luật Sư trẻ tuổi tài ba, xinh đẹp, lại giàu lòng nhân ái, tha thiết muốn phụng sự xã hội. Katie là hy vọng của chúng ta trong tương lai, là kết trái rất ngọt của muôn vàn cay đắng mà gia đình Bác Đặng Hữu Ái đã vượt qua.

MC thứ hai, Luật Sư Lê Quảng Sâm, sinh năm 1981, con trai Cô Lê Tống Mộng Hoa và Bác Lê Huyền, cũng làm rạng danh người Việt tỵ nạn khi phụng sự xã hội Hoa Kỳ trong ngành Luật Sư cho SBA của chính quyền Liên Bang.

Chúng ta còn rất nhiều câu chuyện đáng kể và đáng nghe, đáng ghi vào sử sách. Hôm nay, chúng tôi xin được trân trọng nói lên điều này:

Hành trình tìm tự do của người Việt, bắt đầu từ năm 1954, tiếp tục sau 1975, là một hành trình đầy can đảm, đầy lòng tin, và nhiều hy vọng.

Người Việt tỵ nạn trên hành trình tìm tự do trân trọng ghi ơn tất cả những ai đã góp phần cứu giúp và nâng đỡ chúng tôi trên quãng đường gian khổ.

Hôm nay, lớp trẻ lớn lên sẽ không quên quá khứ, và sẽ đền đáp lại những ân tình ấy một cách xứng đáng.

Một trang sử mới đang mở ra trước mặt chúng ta, ngày 01 tháng 05, năm 2009.

Kính mời tất cả mọi người Việt cùng chung bước đến mức đến cuối cùng của Hành Trình Tìm Tự Do.




JOURNEY TO FREEDOM - OPENING REMARKS

Honored Guests,
Leaders of the Vietnamese Americans,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

On behalf of the Organizing Committee of the “Journey to Freedom” Project, I – Long Nguyên – would like to welcome all of our sponsors, our honored guests, and friends, to the “Boat People Retrospective” Reception Dinner tonight.

First of all, we sincerely appreciate the Asian Division Friends Society of the Library of Congress, especially Ms. Reme Grefalda, who suggested this project. This offered the Vietnamese refugees an opportunity to look back at our past struggles, to officially record our journey to freedom as part of the Vietnamese American History, which now will be preserved at the Library of Congress.

We also would like to thank our sponsors, our compatriots, and all Vietnamese refugees whether boat persons, walk persons, or something else, who have enthusiastically responded and contributed to this project. May this be only a first step, and together we will compile more documents from this tragic history, to preserve a special legacy for the next generations.

Because we were overwhelmed with so many tasks, no doubt we might have overlooked this or that detail, which may displease you. Please forgive us.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Today, the first day of May, 2009, we are marking a special page of our past history, but at the same time we hope to open a new page in our history in America.

I believe our gathering today is a miracle in itself as far as the Vietnamese refugees are concerned. A miracle since it came not from any superhuman power, but from our own hearts, from our very thirst for freedom. A miracle since the very fact that we survived and are here today are the proof of our own endurance, sacrifices, struggles, and always striving to overcome challenges faced by limited human abilities.

Those miracles rest upon courage and sacrifice, of love, faith, and hope.

In 1954, the generation of Professor Tai Van Ta, Professor Bich Ngoc Nguyên, Professor Hung Manh Nguyên, who left North Vietnam to move South, had overcome lots of hardships, just so the generation of 1974 would have a better future.

Unfortunately, in 1975, we again had to pick up and leave our own homeland, in search for freedom.

From 1975 – 1985, the generation of Dr. Quan Dinh, Mrs. Kim Ha, Mrs. Vu Thanh Thuy, Mr. Nguyên Minh Nguyên, Mr. Andy Tran, once more crossed challenging oceans in search for freedom so the younger generations can have more hope.

As results, today, the two MCs representing the younger generation are proofs that those sacrifices and sufferings that our parents and grandparents endured with hope and faith have indeed reached the bright light at the end of the tunnel.

Katie Thuc Nhi Dang, born 1981, in Pulau Bidong, to a boat people family of Mr. Dang Hưu Ai. Katie is now a talented young attorney, beautiful, and very compassionate, with great motivation for public service. Katie represents our hope in the future, she is the result of the struggles of Mr. Dang Huu Ại during the 1980s.

The second MC, attorney Sam Le, also born in 1981, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Le Huyên – Mong Hoa, has brought recognition to the Vietnamese refugees when he serves as the attorney for the Federal SBA.

We have so many more stories to be told, to be heard, and to be recorded into history. Today, we would like to respectfully make the following statements:

The Vietnamese Journey to Freedom which started in 1954 and continued after 1975, is a journey of courage, faith, and hope.

The Vietnamese refugees appreciate all who have helped us, supported us, during hard times.

The younger generation growing up will not forget the past, and will try to give back to the community.

A new page of history has just opened in front of us, today, May 1st, 2009.

We respectfully invite all Vietnamese to join in to reach the ultimate goal of our “Journey to Freedom.”